Vegetables Introduction to Foods and Nutrition
Vegetable Classifications - 8 Vegetables are often grouped according to the part of the plant from which they come. • Bulbs • Flowers • Fruits • Stems • Leaves • Seeds • Tubers • Roots
Bulbs • Examples: Garlic and onions
Flowers Examples: Artichokes, broccoli and cauliflower
Fruits Examples: Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Okra, Peppers, Pumpkins and Squash
Stems Examples: Asparagus and celery
Leaves Examples: Brussels sprouts, cabbage, lettuce and spinach.
Seeds Examples: Peas, corn and beans.
Tubers Examples: Potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes.
Roots Examples: Beets, carrots, parsnips, radishes, rutabagas, sweet potatoes and turnips.
Succulents Flower, fruit, stem, and leaf vegetables are also called succulents because of their high moisture content. agave
Color and Flavor These are two other ways to classify vegetables. Examples: • Strong flavored vegetables would include: Brussels sprouts, turnips and cauliflower. • Mild flavored vegetables would include: Peas, beans and potatoes • Green vegetables(leafy) might include: Spinach, Swiss chard, and kale • Deep yellow vegetables might include: carrots, sweet potatoes and pumpkin.
Nutritional Value Three to Five Servings of vegetables should be included in your diet every day. They are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals needed for good health. Here’s why: • Leafy green and deep yellow vegetables = excellent sources of Vitamin A, Calcium and Iron. • Broccoli, green peppers, and raw cabbage = excellent sources of Vitamin C. • All vegetables = fair amounts of the B Vitamins (seeds are especially good sources). • Vegetable skin and pulp = fiber which aids in digestion. • Seeds, roots and tubers(starchy vegetables)= good carbs. • Almost all veggies are low in calories!!!
Selecting Fresh Vegetables Look for these signs for freshness: • Good color, firmness and absence of bruising/decay. • Avoid wilted and misshapen vegetables. • Medium in size are best. Small veggies may be immature and lack flavor while too large a veggie may be over-mature and tough. Also note: • Handle vegetables carefully to prevent bruising. • Buy only what you will use within a short time. Vegetables lose quality quickly. • Vegetables in season are usually high in quality and low in price.
Storing Fresh Vegetables • You should use them ASAP for best flavor, appearance and nutritive value. Most can keep in fridge for at least a few days. The crisper is the best place. • Store onions and garlic in open containers at room temperature. Air must be able to circulate around them. • Store potatoes, squash, eggplant and sweet potatoes in a cool dry, dark place. Use potatoes within a week from purchase. They may start to sprout or turn green and develop a bitter flavor, otherwise. Always cut those parts away before use.
Cost of Vegetables • The cost of vegetables depends on the time of year. Vegetables cost less when purchased during their peak growing season. • Example: Jersey corn is cheapest in the summer months. • If vegetables are purchased in the off season you will pay more. Remember you are paying shipping and handling for that item to get to you. • Next time you are in the produce section, check out the stickers on your veggies and see where your produce is coming from.
Other options for purchasing Vegetables If you can’t buy fresh why not buy: • Canned • Frozen • Dried
Canned • These can be whole, sliced or in pieces and most are in water. A few may be stored in sauces. Some are also available in jars • These usually cost less than fresh or frozen. House brands (i.e.. Stop n Shop brand) will be less than commercial (Green Giant). • Choose cans that are free from dents, bulges, and leaks. • Store in a cool, dry place and store unused portions in the fridge.
Frozen Vegetables • These retain their appearance and flavor better than canned or dried varieties. It may alter their texture a little. • These usually cost less than fresh, especially when looking for those not in season. • Choose packages that are clean and solidly frozen. If there is a heavy layer of ice on the package, the food may have thawed and been refrozen. • Store in the coldest part of the freezer.
Dried Vegetables • Most common are: peas, beans and lentils. These legumes are high in protein and excellent sources of fiber. • Choose those that are uniform in size, free from visible defects and brightly colored. • Store them in covered containers in a cool dry place.
Preparing vegetables - Raw • Most vegetables can be enjoyed raw and that is truly the most advantageous for vitamin absorption. • Remember raw veggies must be washed and trimmed well. • Trim bruised areas. • Use a vegetable brush to scrub stubborn dirt from crevices. • Do not soak your vegetables as nutrients may be lost this way. • Leafy green vegetables may need several washings to remove dirt and sand.
Cooked Vegetables Changes take place in vegetables when they are cooked. • Cellulose(fiber) softens to make chewing easier. • Starch absorbs water, swells and becomes easier to digest. • Flavors and nutrients change, and some may be lost. Notes: Properly cooked=Veggies with a crisp-tender texture and pleasant color. Easily pierced with a fork. Overcooked= undesirable changes in color, texture, flavor. May loose some of their nutrients.
Effects of Cooking Vegetables on their color/pigment: • Green vegetables contain clorophyll. Heat affects this and that is why overcooked vegetables may look duller in color. • Yellow vegetables contain carotene(a source of Vitamin A). Heat does not destroy this, but it will escape into the water. Less water is best! • White vegetables contain flavones. Which are soluble in water. They will turn yellow or dark grey if overcooked. • Red vegetables contain anthocyanin. Alkali in water will affect it. Also cook in small amount of water or add some lemon juice or vinegar when cooking.
Effects of Cooking Vegetables on their Flavor: • Mildly flavored vegetables (green beans, peas, spinach): Should only be cooked in a small amount of water. • Strongly flavored(Cabbage, broccoli, turnips) should be covered in water allowing some of the flavor to escape. • Very strongly flavored(Onions, leeks) should also be covered in water.
Methods of Cooking Vegetables • In water: boiling or blanching • Over water: Steaming • Pressure cooking • Baking • Frying • Broiling • Microwaving
Cooking in water • Suggestions: Use a pan with a tight fitting lid and add a small amount of water and salt. Bring to a boil and add vegetables. Cover and quickly bring to a boil again. Reduce heat and simmer until crisp-tender.
Steaming • Place vegetables in a steam basket over simmering water. Cover pan tightly and steam until visually or fork-tender.
Pressure cooking • Follow product directions.
Baking • Some vegetables can be baked in their skins (think potatoes!) • Techniques vary with vegetable and recipe. Follow all instructions carefully. • This takes longer than other methods.
Frying • Deep fried, sauteed in oil, stir frying are all examples. • Placing the vegetables in a pan with some sort of fat (EVOO, vegetable oil, butter, etc) will prevent them from sticking to the sides and provide flavor • Best to cook them over medium heat until tender.
Broiling • Brush cut surfaces with oil or melted fat. Place under the broiling unit and cook until tender. Careful! These cook quickly and must be watched! • Think tomatoes, eggplants and brussels sprouts.
Microwave • Vegetables cooked this way often retain their shapes, color, flavor and nutrients given the short cooking time. • Frozen vegetables cooked in their packages must be vented for steam to escape. • Potatoes or tight skin vegetables should be pierced so they don’t explode. • Remember all vegetables will be hot when they come out so handle carefully and let them sit before cutting or eating!
Vegetable Finale! • Vegetables look good and are good for you! • They can be purchased, prepared and served in many different ways! • Your body needs the essential vitamins and nutrients provided by them. • Eat at least 3 to 5 a day!